“The Price of Honesty Can Be Small” by Dr. Long Wang
Management and Strategy Seminar
Dr. Long Wang
Associate Professor of Management
College of Business
City University of Hong Kong
The prevailing perspective in economics suggests that monetary incentives are essential to human behavior. However, money is also often believed to be orthogonal to moral values. Thus, monetary incentives can crowd out intrinsic motivation and undermine prosocial motivation. My programs of research have investigated both symbolic and substantive effects of small monetary incentives. The results from a series of lab and field studies suggest that small monetary bonuses can effectively incentivize honesty because they provide a moral middle ground that nominally satisfies people’s monetary desire and give them an honest appearance. Thus, even when people are not intrinsically honest, they can be nudged to behave more honestly by a small monetary incentive.